How to create a sense of motion?

How can you imply fast motion in a photograph?


Every Photographer has his or her niche that they shoot, whether it’s portraits, landscapes, etc… My personal favorite is Automotive Photography. One of the most challenging aspects of it can be freezing the car while also creating a sense of motion.

Try this: take your camera and take a photo of a passing car.


What were your results? My first attempt was a completely stopped car. This does not imply motion. A photo of a parked car would look exactly the same! The lack of motion was due to using a very fast shutter speed. If your find your photo looking like this, try slowing your shutter speed down.



My next photo used too slow of a shutter speed to freeze the car. This certainly implies motion but the background is now the sharpest part of the image (where your eye is led). This is not what I wanted either. To fix this, you should “track the car as it passes. I suggest using a single point Auto-Focus mode and aim the AF point at a specific part of the car; perhaps the door handle.



If your photo turns out like my third shot, multiple variables could be in play. Both the background and the car were blurred. I did not pan/track the car correctly. It definitely takes a little practice to pan with a moving car, keeping the AF point on the same part of the car. Try to use a shutter speed just slow enough to blur the background, capturing the panning motion.



My fourth shot blurred the wheels only. This would be a good shot, except I wanted to blur the background more than this.


On the 5th shot I blurred everything but the car. This is what I intended to do. The car is in focus but the background is blurry creating the sense of motion!

My final shutter speed was 1/40 with an aperture of F/11. All these cars were traveling on a road with a speed limit of 35mph in the middle of a clear day, so keep these variables in mind when you try!


Try this out for yourself, and feel free to share your results with us. If your photos aren’t turning out as suspected, stop in and let our staff see if we can help!

-Cody White, Springfield, IL Store